Learn five of the most common birth injuries and how to treat them.
Common Types of Birth Injuries
In general, birth injuries fall into two categories: physical injuries and brain-related injuries. The type of birth injury a child receives will determine which treatment option is best for them.
#1. Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral palsy is a series of cognitive disorders that affect a child’s movement and coordination. It’s often caused by oxygen deprivation during the labor and delivery process.
When a child suffers from hypoxia (insufficient oxygen) or anoxia (no oxygen) during birth, the child’s brain cells may begin to die. This can result in significant impairment, including cerebral palsy.
Understanding the different situations in which cerebral palsy may happen can help you determine who to hold responsible for your child’s injury. As such, some of the most common causes of cerebral palsy include:
- Untreated pregnancy infections
- Untreated jaundice
- Hypoxia or anoxia
Since cerebral palsy involves the brain, it can be difficult to treat, and it’s important to remember that this condition has no cure. However, the following treatments may help improve a child’s coordination and movement:
- Physical therapy and rehabilitative care
- Orthotic devices
#2. Brachial Plexus or Shoulder Dystocia Injury
A brachial plexus or shoulder dystocia injury is a type of birth injury caused by physical trauma during the birthing process. This type of injury involves significant damage to a child’s brachial plexus nerves, which can lead to temporary or permanent paralysis of the affected arm.
The risk factors for a brachial plexus or shoulder dystocia include:
- The baby is too large for the birth canal
- The baby is born face- or feet-first
- Delayed labor and delivery
- Induced labor or epidural use
- Maternal diabetes or obesity
It’s up to the attending doctor to identify and understand any risks present for a brachial plexus or shoulder dystocia injury and take the appropriate actions to mitigate them. The failure to do so may leave a child with a debilitating injury.
A brachial plexus or shoulder dystocia injury is not always immediately apparent. So, during your child’s first few weeks or months of life, watch out for the following warning signs:
- Obvious pain in the child’s arm or hand
- A claw-like hand appearance
- Light paralysis of the affected limb
Not all cases of brachial plexus or shoulder dystocia injury are permanent. However, many severe cases are, and treatment can only mitigate the child’s symptoms rather than cure them of the condition entirely.
The treatments that may be prescribed for brachial plexus or shoulder dystocia injury include the following:
- Physical therapy
#3. Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE)
Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) is a brain-related birth injury that occurs when a child’s brain receives too little oxygen and blood during the birthing process. Since HIE often causes brain damage, it is rare for a child to recover completely from this condition. Such brain damage can occur after only a few seconds of oxygen deprivation.
The consequences of HIE may include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Developmental problems
- Lack of motor skills
The symptoms of HIE may include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Irregular APGAR (Appearance, Pulse, Grimace, Activity, and Respiration) scores for five minutes or more
- Depressed or absent reflexes
- Irregular breathing or heart rate
Because it involves the brain, HIE can be difficult to treat. However, some children may make significant strides in their recovery with the following treatments:
- Physical therapy
- Cognitive or occupational therapy
- Medications including anti-seizure medication
#4. Bone Fractures
A bone fracture is one of the most common birth injuries. Babies’ bones are still extremely fragile; however, fractures can be prevented during labor and delivery when doctors act accordingly. At most, babies may suffer from light bruising or small lacerations. Fractures, on the other hand, indicate something negligent happened during the birth.
The warning signs of infant broken bones may include the following:
- Swelling around the affected area
- Inability to move the affected area
- Obvious signs of pain from the child
Medical intervention is almost always needed if a child suffers a fractured or broken bone during labor and delivery. Most of the time, these children will be treated with splints, casts, medication, and possibly surgery. In most cases, children heal from these injuries without any long-lasting effects.
However, that does not mean the physical, emotional, and financial toll of such an ordeal is insignificant.
#5. Injuries to the Mother
Birth injuries are not exclusive to infants; mothers can suffer birth injuries, too. Such injuries can be physical or psychological, and can have devastating long-term effects.
The physical and psychological injuries that mothers may experience during labor and delivery include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Abnormal uterine bleeding
- Broken bones or bruising
- Postpartum hemorrhage
- Preeclampsia or eclampsia
- Maternal infections
- Vaginal tears or lacerations
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
While some of these conditions may be mitigated with surgery, therapy, and/or medication, others can be difficult to resolve.
Recovering Compensation After a Birth Injury
Even if they cannot be cured, most of the aforementioned conditions have treatments that can help improve patients’ symptoms. These treatments, however, do not come cheap.
In order to provide yourself or your child with the best possible medical care, you may face hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of dollars in medical bills. Additionally, you may experience mounting costs in lost wages if you have to leave work to provide your child with around-the-clock care.
This is why it’s in your best interest to contact a qualified birth injury attorney who has a track record of success in handling cases such as these. At Brown & Barron, LLC, we have the experience and resources needed to take on large hospitals and insurance companies. We aim to achieve six- or seven-figure settlements for our clients whose children have suffered birth injuries because we know the amount of high-quality care that is needed for such conditions.
Our Baltimore birth injury attorneys aim to recover the following damages for clients:
- Past and future medical bills
- Past and future lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
We know this is an extraordinarily difficult time, and we want to help you through it as easily as possible. Our legal team has a proven track record of success, so you can rest assured you are in more than capable hands when you have us on your side.